Preview of February Self-Care Month Events

As you may have seen, Stacey and I decided to designate February as self-care month. With Valentine’s Day not far off, it seemed that the idea of self-care and showing ourselves “a little love” was timely.

During February, we’ll be writing and having guest posts on topics pertaining to self-careself-compassionself-lovewellness, mind/body health and other POSITIVE mental health topics. If you have something to say about the importance of self-care, have an established a self-care regimen that works for you or have questions about how other women (ourselves included) make self-care work, then please contact us using the form on our post announcing Self-Care Month.

If you live in St. Louis,we’ll be hosting several self-care classes at my office, Midwest Mind Body Health Center which are:

Mindful Stress Reduction: Saturday, February 8th 10am-noon

Join Dr. Sanford for this 2-hour class to learn clinically proven techniques to reduce anxiety, depression & stress, and improve health & well-being. Mindfulness skills include: breathing exercises, meditation, relaxation training, mind-body movement, thought-releasing techniques & self-compassion.

Mindful Moms: Mondays 9:30-10:45am

Start your week off in a calm, peaceful way with Mindful Moms. Practice basic mindfulness skills with other moms. Learn meditation, breathing exercises, mind-body movement, thought-releasing techniques and self-compassion to stress less & live better.

Women’s Self-Care: Wednesdays 7-8:15pm *Preview 1.28

Is it time for Code Lavender? Time to reduce stress and increase overall health and well-being. An intentional self-care map will make 2014 a year of transformative personal & professional growth!

Mommy 411: Thursdays 9:30-10:45am

Join Jamie Bodily, PLPC, for this on-going 4-session class and support group. Topics include mom & newborn physical care; coping with postpartum emotional adjustment; dealing with relationship changes & developing healthy sleep habits and schedules.

 

Free Yourself To Be Yourself

In a conversation with a client last week, we talked about how difficult it’s been for her to focus equally on what’s in “her best interest” as well as those of others. While she’s finally doing this more in her 50’s, it’s been hard to overcome the message that women often learn growing up of taking care of others in spite of the emotional cost to themselves.

I still remember when I said “No” for the first time to one of my family members and they threw a jar of mayonaise at my feet. Although I was startled by their response, I knew I had to stand my ground. One of the most revered Jewish teachers, Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now when?”

In her remarkable poem “The Journey,” Mary Oliver describes how ultimately we must abide by our “inner voice” if we are to survive. This is also one of Maria Shriver’s favorite poem which she presented for National Poetry Day at the 2011 Women’s Conference, and which I advised my client to listen to last week.

So sit back, relax (well maybe) and enjoy the following rendition of “The Journey.” Then let us know what you think. Is this too radical to imagine or not? If so, what may be standing in your way? What would it take to free yourself to be yourself?

Click on the black box below to listen.

“Self-care is Like Chocolate. You Can Never Have Enough.”

Like Stacey last week, I’ve been a little under the weather this weekend so I’m posting a link to a new interview I did for Psych Central about practicing self-care. The above phrase is one my husband and I came up with for a talk I gave to new moms, although all of us (including me) can benefit from being reminded.

Here are some recommendations from the interview, which you can click here and read in its entirety.

Practice self-care in intervals.

For instance, take 15 minutes for yourself, twice a day, said Sanford, co-author of the book Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide. “Don’t do the laundry, make dinner or read your email.” Instead, take that time to close your eyes and breathe, read a magazine or take a shower, she said.

Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is “paying attention to the present moment on purpose, without judgment,” Sanford said. And you can do this with any activity, at any time. For instance, when washing the dishes, don’t think about your to-do list. “Just pay attention to the sensory experience” of doing the dishes. When playing with your child, focus on the experience of being with them, she said.

Sanford also suggests her clients try this breathing exercise once in the morning and once during the day, along with this body scan as they lie down to sleep. One client, who had a baby in October, sets her morning alarm for five minutes earlier to practice the breathing exercise.

Ignore the naysayers.

Some people might disapprove of you taking time out for yourself. Remember that others’ objections are more about the discomfort within themselves than your actions, Sanford said. Instead, “listen to your inner wisdom,” and tune into your own feelings. Does an activity feel nourishing to you? Do you feel recharged?

The next time you feel guilty or selfish for practicing self-care, remind yourself that “you matter too, and denying your own needs for a prolonged period does not serve anyone,” Eder said. As Sanford noted, self-care isn’t selfish, it’s “self-preserving.”

What wil you do for self-care this week? How will you make it happen?

Transforming Your Life One Day At A Time

It’s the New Year and the question on many of our minds is, “What will I choose to do with my life this year?” Some of us will resolve to lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising and improve our physical health. Others may resolve to be a better parent, spend more time with friends, or de-clutter our homes. For women who work outside their homes, the focus may be on improving our careers, getting a new job or finding more work-life balance. Whatever it is, most of us view the New Year as a fresh start in becoming a better version of ourselves.

Here at livingselfcare, our commitment is to help provide you with inspiration and information to help you lead the best life you can-body, mind, heart and soul. While Stacey and I draw upon our life experiences and resources we’ve found to write our posts, we’re always looking for ideas and recommendation about other blogs, websites, books and resources that offer information on women’s mind-body health and well-being. Just this past week my colleagues introduced me to two new website, workingwomen.com and  healthywomen,org, both which I highly recommend. The more women I meet through the web, the more convinced I become that it is women who will reshape the world into a more humane and peaceful place which we desperately need.

What I’d like to say today is that while the New Year provides an opportunity for change, each day brings the chance to start anew. Here are some guidelines for mind-body health and well-being from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Resolve to follow these four agreements daily and your other goals are more likely to be achieved.

1. Always be impeccable with your word.

2. Don’t take things personally.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

4. Always do your best. 

Transform your life one day at a time with commitment, effort and persistence. Yes, you can!

P. S. Please let us know what books, websites, blogs, and other resources inform and inspire you to share with our livingselfcare community.

Coping With Holiday Stress: An Attitude of Gratitude

For many people, the holidays are times of emotional unrest. After a most unsettling experience with a family member several years ago, I let go of my remaining expectations of holiday bliss and decided to let in whatever happened, ups and downs, sorrows and joys, pleasant and unpleasant experiences. The  season in all its splendor and NOT, like people bumping into you at the mall and grimacing when you look at them. Holiday spirit for sure!

Here’s a poem from Rumi, one of my favorite poets, about accepting life as it comes. A holiday gift to each of you to hold in your heart when holiday stress gets the best of you. It’s a reminder to always have an attitude of gratitude. Hope you enjoy it too.

“The Guest House” by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Healthy Living at the Holidays: The Gift of Attention

I got so busy this past week, I forgot that an interview I’d done weeks ago was coming out in a St.Louis magazine, Town and Style. Today when I opened my e-mail, I had a link to a post about “Killing Off Supermom,” and how women are still striving and killing themselves to “have and be it all.” Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Often, when my own attention becomes scattered that I’m not thinking about what I may need to consider, the universe sends me a message (usually multiple ones) to alert me that I’ve strayed. Yes, it happens to all of us even with a daily mediation practice. No woman is exempt. Ever.

This time it’s the holidays! While I haven’t been baking cookies or putting up decorations, I’m still the one who sends out cards, buys gifts, keeps the pantry stocked, makes plans, etc. Although I don’t “feel busy,” I realize I must be and that I’ve grown so accustomed to over-doing, I hardly notice. I’m not complaining, I’ve put myself here and I’m the only one who can get myself out.

Then, the universe reminds me again that the real present of life is our presence. To show up and pay attention to your life in this moment is a priceless gift to yourself and your loved ones. Thomas Moore, a psychologist and spiritual teacher said, “In the twenty-first century, attention will be the new aphrodisiac.”

This season, turn off your to-do list, your worries, your cell phone, your tablet and “be here now.”  Each moment is precious. Your attention is the best gift of all.

Happy Holidays!

Give the Gift of Self-Compassion

buddha

At the holidays, we often get caught up in what to buy our family and friends. Sometimes, we even sneak a little something in for ourselves. What we frequently overlook though is being kind, patient and loving towards ourselves as we weather the ups and downs the season and many of our family gatherings bring.

Last week in Psychology Today online, a group of 25 women bloggers posted about how they practice self-compassion in their lives, and had some great advice which we wanted to share with you here today. Here’s what a few of them had to say. For the complete article, click here.

Drop Self-Judgment

For me it means dropping self-judgment every time I notice it—from eating too much chocolate last night to procrastinating writing my novel this morning to being envious of a friend this afternoon. It is the act of dropping my story that I am bad, wrong, less than, not spiritual, not progressing.

–Jennifer Louden

Put Self-Care First

My greatest challenge and learning from this practice is that self-care and compassion has to come first—not after I’ve taken care of others, or done my work for the day, but as my first priority.

–Sandi Amorim

compassionShow Up for Yourself

The most intimate relationship we will have in our entire lifetime is with ourselves. No one hears our   hearts the way we do. No one knows our hurts the way we do. We are the sages of our soft spots and our   edges. Self-compassion is showing up to that relationship with honesty and with love.

–Jamie Ridler

Let Yourself Fail

Self-compassion means not having to be right all the time. Letting myself off the hook if I’ve tried my best and things didn’t come out like I wanted. A lot of it is forgiveness. I get to be a mortal. I don’t have to be better or stronger than other people. I get to just be a fallible, wonderful, person like everyone else. It means I’m not special, but in a good way.

–Laura Simms

Forgive Yourself

Oh, and how do I practice self compassion? Easy. I am constantly forgiving myself. Forgiving myself when I judge another to be wrong, when I judge myself as less than… and judge the world for what I see as “bad”. Practicing self-compassion is saying “I forgive myself, for I know not what I see/do.” over and over again.

Kerilyn Russo

Give yourself the gift of self-compassion this holiday season. You’ll be glad you did!